Harbormaster commends Visitors Bureau for promoting cruise ship visits
Harbormaster Silila Patane applauds the efforts of the Executive Director of the American Samoa Visitor's Bureau, David Vaeafe in his efforts to promote the territory as a hot spot for the cruise ship industry.
Last week Vaeafe told Samoa News that American Samoa’s main Port of Pago Pago has proven that it can accommodate two large cruise ships on the same day. "He's absolutely right," Patane told the Samoa News during a telephone interview this week.
Patane said history was made about six years ago when two cruise ships docked at the wharf on the same day—something that local residents, people in his office, and even cabinet members at the time said was impossible. "They doubted such a thing could be done but we did it, and it was a great day in the history of this island," Patane said proudly.
As Harbormaster, Patane is the one all incoming vessels must notify before entering the port. Once the call comes in, Patane gets on a tugboat and goes out to sea to board the incoming vessel, before taking over command and bringing the ship in to port.
With regards to Vaeafe's comments, Patane went a step further and said the territory is well prepared and has the capability of accommodating three cruise ships a day—all at the same time. "We have enough capacity to do it. We've had two cruise ships here before and now we are set for three."
He said there's a way to tie the boats up so they can all fit comfortably. "We can make it happen," he said confidently, adding that in addition to large cruise ships, he would have "no problem" docking an aircraft carrier at the wharf, which is something he says has never been done before and impossible is some people's eyes.
Patane, a retired military serviceman, was credited as one of the driving forces behind the successful docking of the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship— a first for the territory— in 1991. "That opened the way for more British-owned ships to come into port and today, we still have cruise ships based in different areas around the world, making us one of the stops on their itinerary," Patane said.
He said incoming cruise ships are a great way to boost the economy as well as the morale of local residents.
When asked about how everything will pan out if and when more than one cruise ship enters the harbor, Patane said he is confident that all the security measures are covered and there should be no problems.
"Everything this island has, is from our job here at the harbor," he said. "In addition to tourists, we make everything available for locals - from the fuel that allows everyone to cook, drive around, and receive electricity - to cars, medical supplies, food and clothing. We basically feed American Samoa."
Currently, there is an increasing number of cruise liners moving to the South Pacific, with bases in Australia and New Zealand. Vaeafe told Samoa News that placing more ships in our region means more new destinations are being sought and American Samoa is prepared, and has been promoted well, as a cruise ship destination.
"The trend is expected to continue in the future," he said. "It's important for American Samoa to be part of this major tourism sector: the cruise ship industry." This year, 18 ships are confirmed to call in to port, and 16 ships are confirmed for next year, up to September 2014. The ships are bigger, meaning more passengers and crew members, he said.
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